Many couples who visit me complain of tolerating a sexless marriage. Both parties are discouraged and frustrated by the glaring lack of intimacy in their union. What had started out as a sexually fulfilling union, over time, has morphed into a legalized friendship.
Couples state that they had sex four times per day when they first met and couldn’t get enough of each other physically. They both cite careers, children, financial stresses and domestic chores as the blocks to feeling sexy. After a few years, many women go to bed at 10 pm in flannel nighties while their husbands retire after watching TV downstairs or porn on their computer until midnight.
This all too common sexless marriage is the result of a three-phase process.
Phase I: It’s impossible to feel sexy while emptying the Diaper Genie.
1. Busy careers.
2. A hard-to-lose pregnancy weight gain can make women feel unsexy.
3. Babies are still not sleeping through the night.
4. You opted to ‘save money’ by building your 400-piece swing-set by yourself.
Result: You are too tired for sex. You assume that your spicy, fun sex life will reawaken once the babies finally sleep through the night.
Phase II: The Appearance of Scheduled Sex.
1. Kids’ schedules are hectic.
2. Your sex drive starts to diminish from a massive lack of stimulation.
3. You and your husband develop parallel lives. You go to spin class while he hits the driving range.
4. You start having ‘vacation sex,’ ‘birthday sex,’ and ‘anniversary sex’ versus having spontaneous play in the bedroom.
Result: You rationalize that sex isn’t all that crucial in a relationship. You encourage your husband to watch porn so as to let you off the hook.
Phase III: Paranoia Sets in.
1. You can’t remember the last time you had sex.
2. You feel old, unattractive, unsexy.
3. You wonder if your husband’s lack of sexual desire means that he is cheating on you. You look at younger women with murderous envy.
Result: A painful, awkward emptiness exists in your marriage. You blame yourself for the lack of intimacy, saying that you should have prioritized your husband when the kids were little. The emptiness and distance pervades every interaction with your husband. You feel unhappy but don’t feel that divorce is the answer. You feel lost, sad, ugly, and discarded. You assume that everyone you know is feeling satisfied in their marriages, so you don’t discuss your sense of loneliness.
If you feel sad and ashamed by your passionless marriage, you are not alone. This issue is extremely common, but you’d never know it. It’s normal to get lost in the shuffle of kids, mortgage payments, soccer games and back-to-school nights.
How to Reinvigorate Your Marriage
- First phase of reawakening your marriage: Talk openly with your spouse about wanting to prioritize your relationship. Consciously decide together to reinvest time, energy and resources into your union. List all the ways that you used to dote on each other, such as:
1. You used to buy me flowers.
2. I used to tuck love notes in your briefcase.
3. You would pick me up at the train station after work.
4. I used to bring you coffee in bed.
5. We used to plan fun nights out just for the two of us.
- Second phase of reawakening your marriage: Start demonstrating affection toward one another in the ways that you previously did. Finding a love note in your briefcase can do wonders to brighten cup your day. Scheduling fun date nights is also vital for reconnecting with your spouse. Think date nights are an expensive luxury now that you have kids? Think again. The stronger your marriage, the happier your family will be as a whole. After re-forging a connection through time and demonstrations of affection, it is easier to resume physical intimacy. Again, don’t rush things if you don’t feel ready. Start with holding hands or giving one another neck rubs. The goal is to feel nurtured and loved. Gentle kisses on the neck can really show someone how much you care. Over time, it will become more natural to move back into having a sexual relationship.